Monday, November 24, 2014

Cruising the Web

Son now poor ol' Chuck Hagel has been fired is stepping down as Secretary of Defense.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down amid criticism of the president’s national security team on a series of global issues, including the threat posed by the militant group known as ISIS.

Senior defense officials confirmed to NBC News Monday that Hagel was forced to resign.

The officials say the White House has lost confidence in Hagel to carry out his role at the Pentagon. According to one senior official, “He wasn’t up to the job.”
Well, what a surprise that he wasn't up to the task. Remember those confirmation hearings when it was quite clear that he "wasn't up to the job." It was one of the most embarrassing performances by any major cabinet nominee.
At one point he told Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R- Ga., regarding U.S. policy toward Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons: “I’ve just been handed a note that I misspoke and said I supported the president’s position on ‘containment.’ If I said that, I meant to say that obviously – his position on containment – we don’t have a position on containment.”

Hagel then said, “I’ve had more attention paid to my words in the last eight weeks than I ever thought possible.”

This prompted Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D- Mich., to intervene, “Just to make sure your correction is clear, we do have a position on containment – which is we do not favor containment.” Hagel quickly concurred with Levin’s statement.

Hagel told the panel in his opening remarks that he is “fully committed to the president's goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” and that “all options must be on the table to achieve that goal. My policy is one of prevention, and not one of containment and the President has made clear that is the policy of our government.”

At another point, Hagel, explaining his criticism quoted in a 2008 book by Aaron David Miller, of “the Jewish lobby” and his allegation that “it intimidates a lot of people” in Congress – comments for which Hagel has apologized – said he ought to not have used the word “intimidates.”

“I should have used ‘influence,’” he said.

Later, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., challenged Hagel to “name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing” by the pro-Israel lobby or to identify one member of Congress whom the pro-Israel lobby had intimidated. Hagel said, “I didn't have in mind a single person," and did not identify any policy the U.S. government had been goaded into.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, played Hagel a recording of an interview Hagel did in 2009 with an al Jazeera program. A listener submitted a question asking about “the image of the United States is that of the world’s bully” and whether the United States needed “to change the perception and the reality” before asking other nations to reduce their arsenals. In that 2009 program Hagel began his reply by saying, “Her observation is a good one … .”

When Cruz asked Hagel to explain this reply, he said Thursday, “I think my comment was it was a relevant and good observation. I don’t think I said that I agree with it.”
So is anyone shocked that he didn't work out as Secretary of Defense? However, it wasn't his fault that he had to carry out the pusillanimous and contradictory policies of President Obama? The fish rots from the head.

Josh Rogin of Bloomberg has some fun tweeting about Hagel's firing.

Every year I have to break it to my students that the song they learned as a child from Schoolhouse Rock about how a bill becomes a law is just a nice fairy tale. We'll put up the classic steps in their textbook and from the video of how a bill becomes a law. Then I'll ask them where are the places where a bill can be killed. Soon they realize that a bill can be killed at any stage along the way. I used to joke that it was more a story of "Kill Bill" than Schoolhouse Rock though my students are now too young to have heard of those movies. Now the story will have to be appended to talk about a new step when a president just decides unilaterally to ignore the law. And, amazingly, SNL is ahead of me on this with their opening segment.

David Harsanyi examines how truly revolutionary Obama's view of executive power is.
But he has to be the first president in American history to overtly and consistently argue that he’s empowered to legislate if Congress doesn’t pass the laws he favors. It’s an argument that’s been mainstreamed by partisans and cheered on by those in media desperate to find a morsel of triumph in this presidency.

Obama acknowledges his overreach openly every time he argues that he intends to do the job of an obstinate Republican congress. In his speech, Obama scolded those who question whether he has the authority to change the legal status of millions of people, offering this: “I have one answer: Pass a bill.”
But, as Harsanyi writes, Congress doesn't have to pass a bill. And there is little chance that the sort of bill that the Republicans might pass is one that Obama would like.
The president’s entire argument is predicated on the idea that a “broken” immigration system gives him dispensation from engaging in the process. Authoritarians, great and minor, always claim more powers to fix some unprecedented emergency. He’s not the first around these parts to do it. The thing is, our education system is also broken. Our foreign policy is broken. Our welfare system is broken, too.
Shhh. Don't tell Obama or he'll decide to ignore Congress on those issues also.

The Hill looks at those in Hillaryland are worried about. I don't know. Somehow I doubt that they're truly trembling at the thought of opposing Rand Paul. And even Elizabeth Warren is probably not a major fear for Hillary supporters. Chances are Warren won't decide to run, but if she did, it would give Hillary an opportunity to run to the middle. I just suspect that, even those who vote in Democratic primaries, the Democrats across the country are not quite as excited about Elizabeth Warren as those who cheer her from the MSNBC sidelines are. She may well be the national equivalent of Wendy Davis.

President Obama's remarks that America will be looking in 2016 for someone with "that new car smell" really sounds like a not-so-subtle dig at Hillary Clinton. Whatever one says about Hillary, she doesn't have a sense of freshness about her.

And now Dan Balz is warning that Hillary needs more to run on beyond saying that she would be the first female president. She needs a reason why she is running. And so far she doesn't have that yet.
Still, machinery doesn’t win elections, which means the second and more important step for her is to know exactly why she wants to run for president again and how she is alike and different from her husband and Obama, and then to be able to articulate those reasons in a compelling and forward-looking message.

Clinton is nibbled from all sides as she thinks through the rationale for a campaign. On the left are rising demands for a populist economic message of the kind associated with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. She has edged toward that, but sometimes awkwardly, as when she said last month, “businesses don’t create jobs,” a shorthand that baffled nearly everyone by its inarticulateness....

Her prospective candidacy offers the possibility of the first female president in history, but for all the power behind that aspiration, it is not a message. Nor, as the midterms proved, are narrow appeals to women of the kind that fell short for Democratic candidates for Senate in Iowa and Colorado — two states vitally important in a general election.
Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker notes that Hillary hasn't said anything about reforming the NSA or the Keystone pipeline.

Zoltan L. Hajnal writes in the NYT about how the Democrats may have a problem with white voters after the President's immigration move. That may or may not be true. But what struck me is how the writer lumps Latinos and Asian-Americans together as supporting the President's action. I really wonder if that is so. Few of the Asian-Americans who have come to this country have come here illegally. Most of them have waited and worked hard to get visas allowing them to come. I've noticed in my classes that, whenever the subject of immigration reform comes up, the Asian-American students in the class take a much harder line than the white students because they're aware of what their parents went through in order to come here. They represent the groups who waited in line to come here according to the rules and they're not impressed with those who didn't.

Josiah Neeley explains how the efforts to block Keystone are really about how to "milk" more donations from interest groups who want to influence the decision.
In this case, Keystone pits two traditionally Democratic allies each other. In one corner are well-heeled environmentalists, who have spent big fighting Keystone in the court of public opinion. In the other corner is organized labor, which largely favors approval as a source of jobs, and even some energy companies (which have contributed to Landrieu’s campaign). Any final decision on Keystone would risk alienating a key Democratic constituent (and would threaten to cut off the pipeline of campaign donations). By keeping the issue in everlasting limbo, however, Democrats can continually use the prospect of Keystone approval as a renewable resource both financially and electorally.
Meanwhile the Washington Post gives Obama three Pinnochios for his claim that the Keystone XL crude would go "everywhere else" except the United States.

Politico explains all the mistakes the Democrats made in their efforts to take over Texas. They just have no understanding of the state.

The media reporter at the Baltimore Sun marvels at the dominance Fox News had on election night swamping not only the other cable news channels, but also the network news. Well, the networks devoted very little time to covering the election results. So why would people interested in the results tune into them. And given that it looked like it was going to be a night of triumph for the GOP, wouldn't it make sense that more Republicans would be tuned into the results than Democrats? And is it all that surprising that those Republican viewers would tune into Fox rather than CNN or MSNBC?

Charles Krauthammer explains how phony the supposedly historic climate deal with China really is.
Unfortunately, the Obama-Xi agreement is nothing of the sort. It is a fraud of Gruberian (as in Jonathan) proportions. Its main plank commits China to begin cutting carbon emissions 16 years from now. On the other hand, the United States, having already cut more carbon emissions than any nation on earth since 2005, must now double its current rate of carbon cutting to meet a new, more restrictive goal by 2025. In return for which, China will keep increasing its carbon emissions year after year throughout that period — and for five years beyond.

If this sounds like the most one-sided deal since Manhattan sold for $24 in 1626, you heard right.
It makes one full of faith of what quality deal Secretary Kerry will negotiate with Iran, doesn't it?

Israel is not impressed with the proposed deal that Kerry is working on with Iran. After all, we've seen in the past what happens when the international community puts its faith in inspections.
But "our intelligence agencies are not perfect," an Israeli official said. "We did not know for years about Natanz and Qom. And inspection regimes are certainly not perfect. They weren't in the case in North Korea, and it isn't the case now – Iran's been giving the IAEA the run around for years about its past activities."

"What's going to happen with that?" the official continued. "Are they going to sweep that under the rug if there's a deal?"

On Saturday afternoon, reports from Vienna suggested the P5+1 – the US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany – are willing to stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran.
But that is not the only weakness in the deal. We're no longer asking Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
But compounding Israel's fears, the proposal Jerusalem has seen shows that mass dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure – including the destruction, and not the mere warehousing, of its parts – is no longer on the table in Vienna.

"Iran's not being asked to dismantle the nuclear infrastructure," the Israeli official said, having seen the proposal before the weekend. "Right now what they're talking about is something very different. They're talking about Ayatollah Khamenei allowing the P5+1 to save face."
And that oversight of Iran's program have an end date.
Yet, more than any single enforcement standard or cap included in the deal, Israel believes the Achilles' heel of the proposed agreement is its definitive end date – the sunset clause.

"You've not dismantled the infrastructure, you've basically tried to put limits that you think are going to be monitored by inspectors and intelligence," said the official, "and then after this period of time, Iran is basically free to do whatever it wants."
Oh, here is the most predictable breaking news story - Iran nuclear talks are being extended. Of course they are. That's all Iran wants - to delay things while they keep doing research and move ahead with their plans while pretending to negotiate with gullible diplomats like our dear John Kerry..

Nate Cohn explains why, contrary to the dire warnings from Democrats, voter ID laws don't swing many elections.

Dan McLaughlin has done an exhaustive study of how the various polling firms did in 2014.

Deroy Murdock notices how the NAACP ignored the election of three Republican blacks to Congress.

This is quite funny - The college essay by the boy from Jurassic Park. It captures all the artificiality and pomposity of such essays.